Sree Ramaseva Mandali’s 86th anniversary celebrations usher melody to Bengaluru

The Sree Ramaseva Mandali’s 86th year music celebrations will see vocal and instrumental presentations, with Grammy winner Ricky Kej giving one of the concluding performances of the season

Published - April 09, 2024 04:15 pm IST

Violinists Lalgudi GJR Krishnan and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi will perform at the SVN centenary celebrations

Violinists Lalgudi GJR Krishnan and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi will perform at the SVN centenary celebrations | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

There is a sense of supreme satisfaction for the Chamarajpete Sree Ramaseva Mandali Ramanavami Celebrations Trust as the centenary tribute for their founder, SV Narayana Swamy Rao, will see them honouring 100 musicians from Karnataka during their 32-day music festival from April 9 to May 10. There will be 64 concerts in the evening at the specially erected 40, 000 square foot pandal at the Fort High School grounds, with spiritual discourses in the morning, including Satyatma Tirtharu (April 29 to May 3).

“The pandal premises is home to me and my son Abhijith till mid-May,” says SN Varadaraj, a vocalist and mechanical engineer whose passion for music helped him continue the Mandali’s Ramothsava after the demise of his father in 2000. “As we are celebrating 50 years of renaming Mysore State as Karnataka, we thought the spirit of Karnataka Sambrama has to reverberate on our platform too. So, all the musicians participating this year have been asked to take up Dasa Sahitya as their mainstay in honour of Kannada.”

Taking forward a legacy

Though the Mandali’s commitment is towards encouraging local talent, there is always an equal measure of musicians from other states, eagerly looking forward to being part of secular Ramothsava celebrations. Guests have included nadaswara maestro TN Rajarathinam Pillai, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, Kadri Gopalnath, KJ Yesudas, MS and MLV, L Subramaniam, M Balamurali Krishna and Begum Parveen Sultana. “This legacy continues,” says Vardaraj.

SVN with Flute Mahalingam

SVN with Flute Mahalingam | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The endeavour to start such an enterprising music mission had its modest beginnings when SVN as a teenager collected ₹20 for a Holi Kamana Habba in 1939. When he found an excess of ₹10 in his kitty, he decided the collective effort could help serve the cause of fine arts during Ramanavami. Thus, the Mandali was born the same year, with a few days of music on the 3rd Main Road footpath in Chamarajpet.

Within the first 10 years, the Mandali had seen young talents such as violinist T Chowdiah, the Alathur Brothers, Madurai Mani Iyer, TR Mahalingam and Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar participate, before the venue for concerts moved to the Bangalore City Institute Compound in the early 1950s, with the Mysore Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar taking part in several inaugural ceremonies with statesman C Rajagopalachari. The Fort High School Grounds of the Education Department hosted the music programme from 1967.

Specials of the season

Abhijith Varadaraj says the Mandali will bring out a book Tanu Ninnadu, on SVN as a tribute to the violinist-organiser’s warm personality, fiery passion towards secularism and determination to bring oneness through music.

SVN honouring former Vice President of India GS Pathack

SVN honouring former Vice President of India GS Pathack | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“The book will include details of how over the last 25 years, Vardaraj worked towards convincing youth to attend concerts in large numbers. My grandfather SVN too, would conduct concerts to welcome new audiences, making way for artistes such as Vani Jayaram who would base their shows with an underlying allegiance to classical music.”

This season one can look forward to off-the-beaten-track shows with a classical perspective from Bengaluru-based youngsters such as Sivasri Skandaprasad, a popular face on social platforms for her devotional, classical and playback singing; classically trained Harish Sivaramakrishnan, lead vocalist of Carnatic progressive rock band Agam; and three-time Grammy winning music composer Ricky Kej.

Amongst the noteworthy 13 duo concerts included in the series, one can watch out for vocalist Bangalore S Shankar and his son Ramani Shankar; jugalbandi treats by Sandeep Narayan and Jayateerth Mevundi and violin HK Venkatram and Shehnai Ashwani Shankar; P Unnikrishnan with daughter Uttara; and the Bangalore Brothers among others.   

Mandali Awards

Among the many awards to be presented this year, is the Ramagana Kalacharya to be given to mridangist Bangalore V Praveen, son of veteran percussionist ML Veerabhadraiah. He is amongst the last of youngsters taking forward the schooling he received from guru Palghat Mani Iyer.

V Praveen will be performing at the SVN centenary celebrations

V Praveen will be performing at the SVN centenary celebrations | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“We choose this award for people who have worked hard to popularise a signature stylistic formatting and been disseminating it through their students,” says Abhijith, adding that Praveen was a favourite of SVN, as he had handpicked him as a little boy of eight to accompany MS Subbulakshmi — a performance that left a lasting impact on many.

The SVN Rao Global Music Award will be conferred on violinist siblings Lalgudi GJR Krishnan and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi. Varadaraj says, “If there is one family that has taken Indian music to global audiences, it is the Lalgudi family and GJR and Vijayalakshmi are fifth-generation musicians, the authentic torchbearers of the illustrious Lalgudi parampara.

One of the duo’s initiatives, Violin Wise saw them fly down American musician and violin maker James Wimmer to conduct regular workshops and impart the intricate art of violin craftsmanship and repair. The collaboration resulted in the Violin Wise team becoming skilled as international quality violin makers, able to repair and conserve instruments. Wimmer owes his skill to his jazz pianist mother and his training in Germany under master violin makers Wolfgang Uebel and Herbert Rainer Knobel.

This year’s Ramanavami concerts begin on April 9 with a Nadaswara recital by Mysore Vijay Surya and will be followed by a presentation by Trichur Brothers. 

For programme details and to book tickets go to

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